For this poem i used the song Neon Gravestones by Twenty One Pilots. This song is about the idea that we glorify suicide today making it almost seem like a good thing because of the publicity that comes with it and by doing that we in turn encourage suicide whether we had good intentions or not at the start. I enjoy this song and agree with it, however i don’t believe he focuses on the main point as much as I’d hope so i decided to lessen the background information and put a large emphasis on the main theme and making it carry weight with it. The “no.” is bolded because it is supposed to be an abrupt and stern disagreement. At first i wasn’t sure whether i wanted to keep the term neon gravestones, but i decided that it was a very interesting and ironic term that would fit well.
As I read the first two chapters to Citizen I found one particular quote that stood out to me. On page 25, the narrator quotes Zora Neale Hurston in saying “I feel most colored when thrown against a sharp white background.”. This, to me, is one of the most powerful phrases I have seen. This is a statement clearly made about racism in America and states that she feels most colored when around white people, but also uses the word “sharp”. She is describing how it feels and the challenges you have to face being a black person in a world full of white people while also stating that it the color difference is only so noticeable when she is treated harshly for being black. Throughout this chapter the most potent example she makes is the tennis player Serena Williams.
Today she is very well known being a very skilled tennis player, but she has had a rough and challenging career to say the least. In 2009 Serena Williams had an outburst on the court over a bias ruling that caused her to lose the match. The ruling was a foot fault meaning she had overstepped the bounds while serving. During this call Serena was already a game down and had 1 point left to lose the match. This call was made on a play where Serena had scored to tie up the round, but because with the call being made the rulings gave the point to her opponent and lose her the match. That being said it is a known custom in tennis to not make such trivial calls at such climatic points in a match that could decide everything. And even so others in the sport including McEnroe, a professional player, and the ESPN tennis commentator at the time all agreed that it wasn’t even a fault at all. In a fit of rage Serena swears at the lineswoman making the call. Although what she said was very offensive, There was much leading up to this scenario. That including the 2004 US open where she had been robbed of a match due to Mariana Alves’s aggressively bias calls forcing Serena to lose another important match.
All of this led up to her having a match in 2011 where a call is made, rightfully, and she gets into a small argument with the umpire asking if she was “screwing her again”. Aside from the fact the 2004 and the 2009 umpires were different she had many other instances of discrimination against her on the court. It is easy to assume this is probably an umpire from one or multiple of those instances. At this time Serena had become a very well known and well liked athlete, but it seems that all of that aside the community is very harsh towards her in particular. The quote “I feel most colored when thrown against a sharp white background” is personified by Serena so well because of her career as a tennis player. In her attempt to grow as an athlete Serena is constantly reminded by her white colleagues that she is black because of the poor and unjust treatment she constantly gets on the court.
Yet now she has slowly changed after achieving a few gold medals on the court she becomes less and less personal in the public eye. The narrator references “how to be a successful artist” by Hennessy Youngman on Youtube. This is a mock at society stating that in order to be successful you have to be white. This is referenced here because we are getting into an era where time after time Serena is winning and slowly becoming less and less expressive about her racial pride. Even to the point of stopping her boycott of indian wells in 2015 after she is called out for lack of “dignity” and “integrity”over it. Serena had to separate herself from her career in order to be where she is today and to overcome the discrimination she is constantly faced, but instead of fighting it she eventually gives up on expecting better of her peers. She ultimately conforms to the white community in order to succeed.
Can you think of other athletes that experienced such extreme abuse throughout their career as well?
What do you think of the phrase “In order to be truly successful you have to be white.”?
Hey everyone my name is Cody Wolfe Jacobs. I’m from Centereach, Long Island. I am transferring in as a junior this semester with an associate’s in Fitness specialist and my major is Exercise Sciences. I dabble in Martial arts like Thai boxing and am joining the wrestling team this year. Looking forward to this semester with everyone!